Wednesday was Popples's birthday. He is 12 now. How time flies. This was his first birthday in his new school and unlike his other school, birthdays are celebrated with style here. Something we did not know. Utpal had called me last week and given me a list of things he wanted me to bring: a cake baked by Shamika, fruit juices, sweets to give his pals and of course his present. What he forgot to tell us was that we had to reach before the day boarders left so that we could all celebrate together. I thought that we could only meet him after school hours. I was told that he was in tears as he wanted to take all his friends to the 'party room' he had 'booked'. I felt like a rat and kicked myself hard. Next year I would be there an hour before time.
We reached as school was over so his day boarder friends were leaving. We had nevertheless ensured that he was given sweets to distribute. We finally got to see him and he stood out as in this school kids are allowed to wear home clothes on their birthdays. One more point to remember: next birthday I will make sure he gets new clothes to wear!
After a big hug he told us about the party room and the fact that he had to go and get the key and we should follow his pals who would guide us. We gathered all our wares and followed meekly. I was a little worried as I did not know if we had enough to eat but mercifully the school has a lovely canteen run by a set of resourceful ladies. Mamaji who had accompanied us was commandeered to go to the canteen and pick up whatever we could. The loot was 15 hot dogs and 14 patties all yum. The key and lady in charge were found and the room opened. It had a long table and many chairs and though the lights were dim, our enthusiasm made up for all the shortcomings. We were a merry band with Utpal the perfect host. His little pals were settled. They came not only from far corners of India but form Afghanistan and the Maldives. Quite an international gathering. The cake was brought out, candles lit and happy birthday sung with fervour. The cake was cut amidst song and laughter.
Then Utpal told me that they wanted to dance so we needed to go outside. We did and Utpal danced while Nawab, his Afghan pal sang. It was a memorable experience that brought tears to my eyes. Then everyone danced to the sound of a cell phone. We would have wanted to stay longer but could not and left the boys in a happy mood.
I was moved and happy. God bless my darling Popples.